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It can't be easy to have your midlife crisis playing out to the world

PUBLISHED: 14:01 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 14:01 27 March 2018

File photo of Anthony McPartlin (left) and Declan Donnelly. Photo Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.

File photo of Anthony McPartlin (left) and Declan Donnelly. Photo Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.

Archant

I have a certain fondness for Ant and Dec after having given birth in front of them.

They weren’t actually there in person at the time but their cheery banter on the telly in the background while I lay on a bed with my legs in stirrups was exactly what I needed at the time.

They also couldn’t do enough when I was editor of the teen magazine, Bliss, in the early noughties, and my team went to interview them time and again.

No one ever had a bad word to say for them.

They don’t really now.

Of course, Ant has blotted his copy book and I am sure he will be feeling terrible about the car accident in which a young girl was injured.

He will come to feel terrible too – if he doesn’t already – about other people who may have been hurt in the crossfire of his own pain as anyone who has ever been through a difficult time and seen the impact it has had on those who love them will attest.

But, as ever in our culture, now is not the time to start laying into someone who is clearly struggling.

Rather, it is a time for empathy, and to recognise that somebody needs help.

It is fortunate timing that following Ant’s latest troubles, the news that Dec is to be a father for the first time came out at the weekend, switching the attention away from the one to the other, in the same way they have always done on stage if ever the other’s line is starting to run dry.

Ant appears to be walking the well-trodden path that many have walked before him.

The good old midlife crisis.

Am I still married to the person I want to be married to?

Does my life amount to what I hoped it would and, if not, is there still time for it to change?

His recent apparent meltdown, in some ways, has even had an element of public service – it’s got people talking about all sorts of issues from driving under the influence to how hard it can be when a close friend announces their pregnancy when you have so often stated, but not come to realise, your desire to start a family of your own.

Ant’s marriage reportedly ended in January so it’s little surprise if he has been over indulging.

Alcohol – and/or other stimulants – are willing partners along Self Destruct Road and Ant, it is reported, has “entered a treatment facility”.

Let’s cut him some slack.

He’s not done many of the other midlife crisis staples like running off for a grubby weekend with another woman, which would only have made him hate himself more.

Nor has he been a hypocrite, presenting himself as a happy family man, all the while putting extra strain on the people who love him to keep up a charade of perfection that no one is ever convinced by anyway.

He hasn’t changed his wardrobe or friends. He hasn’t deluded himself that he is more talented than he is. He has simply messed things up; a little part of him doing so, perhaps, just to see what would happen, because life can get a bit monotonous and desperate when it seems as if there is nothing left to achieve.

The philosopher Henry Thoreau put it thus: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Or, as Tom Hanks once said: “A midlife crisis is when you wake up with everything and you go, ‘I have everything but I’m still unhappy’.”

What Ant needs to do now is look around him at the life he still has; the people who have stuck by him even when he was at his worst, and start again.

Because the best thing about ripping your life up?

Well, it tends to be putting it back together again, and being helped to do so by the ones who are still around to care.

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